Marcus Anderson — Now

June 17, 2011

Now, the third release from the 2009 Capital Jazz Fest Challenge winner, saxophonist Marcus Anderson, hits the streets on June 28 and puts on display a diverse array of talent that one can only acquire having a serious taste for good jazz and the hybrid forms it has taken on over the years. It, of course doesn’t hurt that the young man has to his credit some years of study under the great Branford Marsalis. That alone can help shape and mold one’s palate for the genre. The rest, as this release will prove is all imagination, all drive, all Anderson.

With all but a couple of tracks having been penned by the saxman, Anderson clearly set out to again claim his turf and demonstrate that genre is in good hands whenever our beloved “vets” of the business decide it’s time to “retire,” although the stuff many of those “vets”are made of simply won’t let that happen for a while yet, I’m sure. Still, they can feel comforted in knowing the genre will survive as long as the likes of Anderson are around to push it to its limits, whatever those limits may be.

Anderson is joined here by young keyboard wiz Nicholas Cole, the iconic Canadian duo Four80East, and guitarist Nate Najar, as well as Marcus Cole and Anderson’s twin brother Marcel on vocals.

What’s refreshing about Anderson is not just the manner in which he handles the high-stepping jams (including the rousing cover of Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time,” complete with Anderson’s now trademark EWI accompaniment) but the way he caresses and polishes the mellow tracks like “85 to 95” with its exotically rhythmic and jazzy edge, key change, classy bridge, and nice hook. The sophistication doesn’t end there as he treats us to some serious flute work (oh yeah, he’s got that covered, too!) on “It Doesn’t Matter.”   Then, there’s the impressive finale “Family Bond.”  To me, this material is what separates those who simply play well enough from those who really come to play with an expressive purpose.
If I had any misgivings about this fine album, I might say that I would have done Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin’” without the EWI. Not the tune for that, in my opinion. This cut was meant to be all romance, no effects necessary.  I guess that’s the old schooler in me. Still, the man is doing his own thing, and this album is his thing through and through.  Enjoyable is a gross understatement.  – Ronald Jackson